Can the Missouri Tigers Claw Their Way to the Playoffs? 2024 Season Odds & Analysis

Can the Missouri Tigers Claw Their Way to the Playoffs? 2024 Season Odds & Analysis

Missouri football coach Eli Drinkwitz entered the 2023 season on one of the hottest seats in the country, but the Tigers had one of their best seasons in years, and he’s off it now.

Can Missouri contend in the new-look SEC that adds Oklahoma and Texas? Maybe. Here’s a look at the 2024 Tigers.

Expert Prediction: Under 9.5 wins as Missouri finishes 9-3 with losses at Texas A&M, at Alabama and home to Oklahoma. No SEC title.
To win national title: +3500
To win SEC: +1400
Regular-season win total: 9.5
 

Last Season

Missouri finished 11-2 last season and ranked in the Top 10 of the AP poll, capping its season with a 14-3 upset of No. 7 Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl.

The Buckeyes never reached the red zone on their 11 possessions (eight punts). Mizzou star running back Cody Schrader rushed for 128 yards and a TD.

He finished with a Missouri single-season record 1,627 yards rushing, surpassing Tyler Badie’s 1,604 yards in 2021.

With Schrader’s 128-yard performance against OSU, Mizzou’s offense achieved a program first, recording a 3,000-yard passer in Brady Cook, a 1,500-yard rusher in Schrader and a 1,000-yard receiver in Luther Burden.

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AP Rankings

The OSU win was MU’s first against an AP top-10 team in a bowl game since a 21-14 win over No. 4 Navy in the 1961 Orange Bowl.

It was the first time since 2014 that the Tigers won 11 games. Drinkwitz claimed his first bowl game victory at the helm of the program.

He now has 28 wins, the third-most in program history through the first four seasons.

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Brady Cook Performance

While Schrader is now in the NFL, Cook and Burden are back. Cook, who was named the Cotton Bowl Offensive MVP, passed for 128 yards and rushed for 66 on 19 carries against the Buckeyes.

He ended his junior season with 3,317 passing yards and 21 touchdowns, each mark ranking in the program’s top 10 single-season totals (eighth and ninth, respectively).

Cook finished the season with 3,636 yards of total offense, good for eighth on the Tigers’ single-season chart.

His career passing yardage total of 6,478 ranks seventh on the Tigers’ career list. Cook has 986 career rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground.

With Sam Horn out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Arizona State transfer and former Notre Dame QB Drew Pyne looks likely to slot in as an experienced backup.

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Luther Burden Performance

Burden is one of the top returning wideouts in the country after finishing his sophomore campaign with 1,212 yards, the third most by a MU receiver (Jeremy Maclin in 2008, Danario Alexander in 2009).

His 86 catches were the fourth-most by a Mizzou wideout, and he had nine TDs. The Tigers have returned their six most productive receivers from last season.

They also bolstered the position with some four-star high school signees.

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Missouri Trades

At running back, Georgia State transfer Marcus Carroll and Appalachian State transfer Nate Noel figure to share carries.

The offensive line added a terrific transfer in SMU’s Marcus Bryant. He was an All-American Athletic Conference first-team selection last season, when the Mustangs went 11-3 and defeated Tulane in the AAC championship.

Three starters are back on the Missouri O-Line. The returning defensive starters are led by edge rusher Johnny Walker, who was the Cotton Bowl Defensive MVP.

He appeared in all 13 games and racked up 43 tackles, 25 of which were solo, in addition to 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. His nine quarterback hurries were the most on the team, and his five sacks topped his previous career total in three seasons.

Michigan State DE Zion Turner and DT Chris McClellan from Florida have transferred in. The secondary added Clemson’s Toriano Pride.

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Tiger’s Lost

While the Tigers’ passing game is their biggest strength, their pass defense is their biggest weakness.

Missouri lost many key defensive players to the NFL draft, namely first-round edge defender Darius Robinson and three starters from its excellent secondary.

The Tigers also lost defensive coordinator Blake Baker to the same position at LSU. He was replaced by Corey Batoon, who spent the last three seasons at South Alabama as the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator.

In 2023, Batoon’s defense at South Alabama was No. 15 in the nation in yards yielded per game (313.2).

The Jaguars surrendered 10 or fewer points in five of those games. Included among them was a 33-7 victory at Oklahoma State.

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First Games of the Season

Missouri will be a heavy home favorite for its season opener on Aug. 29 against FCS school Murray State.

That was originally scheduled for Aug. 31 but moved two nights earlier to be shown on the SEC Network.

Missouri leads the all-time series 2-0 with the teams last meeting in Columbia on Aug. 31, 2013. The matchup is only the fifth weeknight game at Faurot Field since 2009.

The Tigers should easily go 4-0 against non-conference foes Murray State, Buffalo, Boston College and UMass.

They avoid Georgia and Texas in SEC play but travel to Alabama and host Oklahoma.

Missouri hasn’t beaten the Tide since 1975 and the Tigers haven’t much competed in any of the last four matchups since entering the SEC, losing all four by an average of 27.75 points.

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